Monkey escapes from primary enclosure at Woburn Safari Park three times in one day

A Barbary macaque at Woburn Safari Park
A Barbary macaque at Woburn Safari Park

Woburn Safari Park has been rapped for failing to report an incident where a monkey escaped from its enclosure three times in a day.

Concerns were raised by a whistle-blower to Central Bedfordshire Council, which issues the zoo’s licence.

Council officials said Woburn Safari Park was in breach of its license when it failed to report the escapes.

They were only revealed after an anonymous letter was sent to Central Bedfordshire Council and environmental health officer Ben Salvatierra raising concerns with the park in May.

He said: “I was concerned that the zoo failed to report the escape albeit it was temporary, short-lived and remained within the confines of the zoo.

“As such, the zoo breached a licence condition by failing to report the matter within 24 hours.”

A spokesman for Woburn Safari Park said: “It was recognised that a Barbary macaque escaped its primary enclosure, although remaining within the secure boundary of the overall drive-through section of the safari park grounds and posed no risk to visitors.”

The zoo has since pledged to report any future escapes within the time frame.

A spokesman for Central Bedfordshire Council said: “We have been working with Woburn Safari Park to ensure that procedures are in place and being followed to avoid a repeat of a recent incident which saw a macaque escaping from its enclosure - although not the safari park.

“Ensuring the safety of visitors, staff and animals are all key elements of zoo licensing, and that is why we have strict rules in place and inspect zoos annually to make sure this is happening.

“Venues have a responsibility to report any incidents within 24 hours and we will find out what happened and work together to avoid a repeat.”

The unreported monkey escapes come after the council criticised a breakdown in communication which led to the death of a peacock at Woburn in an inspection in March.

Inspectors found the peacock starved to death after it was placed into isolation but forgotten and not fed.

A spokesman for Woburn Safari Park said: “Following its most recent Zoo Inspection on 31st March 2017, Woburn Safari Park demonstrated its continual improvement to animal welfare and animal management, by showing full compliance with the Zoo Licence conditions of 2016.

“The park however acknowledged and was saddened that human error occurred in relation to the death of the peacock and subsequently protocols were improved.”

The zoo’s licence has been renewed until 2019.